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Publication numberUS4422781 A
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 06/353,649
Publication dateDec 27, 1983
Filing dateMar 1, 1982
Priority dateMar 1, 1982
Fee statusLapsed
Publication number06353649, 353649, US 4422781 A, US 4422781A, US-A-4422781, US4422781 A, US4422781A
InventorsStephen C. Armfield, Christopher W. Brock
Original AssigneeCentronics Data Computer Corp.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Printing apparatus and method variable velocity on-the fly printing
US 4422781 A
Abstract
A method and apparatus for controlling the velocity of a carriage in a calligraphic type printing apparatus maximizes average velocity across the printing line. The method and apparatus, based upon the present carriage velocity and the maximum future carriage velocities along a predetermined next portion of the printing line, determine the direction of velocity change for the carriage, if any change is needed. Accordingly, the velocity of the carriage is controlled so as to not exceed maximum carriage velocities at various points along the printing line. These maximum carriage velocities are determined by the symbols being printed and in particular by the complexity of the symbols being printed. The method and apparatus can operate either on a demand or on a line-by-line basis.
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Claims(15)
What is claimed is:
1. In a calligraphic printing apparatus having
a moving carriage carrying a movable stylus mechanism,
a carriage control element, and
means responsive to the carriage control element for moving said carriage along a printing path, said printing path being divisible into a plurality of distance-velocity increments,
wherein as said carriage moves along said printing path a plurality of symbols are written by said movable stylus,
the improvement wherein said carriage control element comprises
means for determining, for each distance-velocity increment along said printing path, a maximum carriage velocity, said maximum carriage velocity being dependent on the complexity of said symbol, and
means responsive to said maximum carriage velocities for determining, for each distance-velocity increment along said printing path, an optimum change in carriage velocity,
whereby said carriage can traverse said printing path at a velocity which varies as a function of the complexities of the particular characters being written by said stylus thereby to provide adequate time over which each character can be written from said moving carriage.
2. In a calligraphic printing apparatus having
a movable carriage carrying a movable stylus mechanism,
a carriage control element, and
means responsive to the carriage control element for moving said carriage along a printing path, said printing path being divisible into a plurality of distance-velocity increments,
wherein as said carriage moves along said printing path a plurality of symbols are written by said movable stylus,
the improvement wherein said carriage control element comprises
first means for storing printing path time/velocity data for each printing symbol, said printing path time/velocity being dependent on the complexity of said symbol,
second means for storing at least a selected minimum number of next symbols to be printed in said path,
means responsive to said first and second storage means for associating with each said increment a corresponding maximum carriage velocity, and
means responsive, at each increment to a minimum number of next increments and said maximum carriage velocities associated therewith for controlling carriage velocity changes along said printing path,
whereby said carriage can traverse said printing path at a velocity which varies as a function of the complexities of the particular characters being written by said stylus thereby to provide adequate time over which each character can be written from said moving carriage.
3. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein each said symbol occupies an equal spatial symbol duration along said printing path, and
said distance-velocity increment is an integer divisor of said symbol spatial duration along said printing path.
4. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein
said carriage further comprises
a carriage body,
a printing element supported by said printing mechanism, and
means for controlling the velocity of the printing element in response to a velocity input control signal, said printing element velocity control means moving said printing element relative to the moving carriage body at least in the direction of the movement of the carriage,
signal means responsive to the position of said carriage along said printing path, and
means for modifying said velocity input control signal to said printing element in response to the position of said carriage indicated by said signal means.
5. In a calligraphic printing apparatus having
a moving carriage for carrying a calligraphic stylus mechanism,
a carriage control element, and
means responsive to the carriage control element for moving said carriage along a printing path, said printing path being divisible into a plurality of distance-velocity increments,
wherein as said carriage moves along said path said stylus mechanism writes a plurality of symbols,
the improvement comprising
a carriage position responsive means for providing an output signal representing the position of said carriage along said printing path,
a first storage means for storing, for each symbol to be written by said apparatus, a time/velocity data representing the writing time for said symbol at a standard writing size,
a second storage means for storing at least a selected minimum number of next sequential symbols to be printed in said path, said second storage means being continuously updated to provide at least a selected minimum number of next symbols to be printed in said printing line path,
a third storage means for storing carriage velocity data representing the maximum carriage velocity at distance velocity increments along said printing path, and
a fourth storage means for storing data representing an optimum carriage velocity profile along said printing path,
said carriage control element comprising means responsive to each symbol to be printed, for determining the maximum carriage velocity at each distance-velocity increment along said printing path and storing said determined maximum velocities in said third storage element, and
means responsive to said maximum carriage velocity data in said third storage element for determining an optimum carriage velocity profile along said printing path, said last means comprising
means for looking ahead, at each distance-velocity increment, for a minimum number of next distance-velocity increments, in said third storage means and, in response to said next maximum carriage velocities determining a carriage velocity change from the present distance-velocity increment to the next distance-velocity increment whereby said carriage can traverse said printing path at a velocity which varies as a function of the complexities of the particular characters being written by said stylus thereby to provide a adequate time over which each character can be written from said moving carriage.
6. The printing apparatus of claims 1, 2 or 5 wherein said carriage control element further comprises
a storage means for storing a look-up chart for determining, in response to a present carriage velocity and a maximum future carriage velocity for one of said next increments, the allowable carriage velocity change for the next velocity distance increment.
7. In a calligraphic printing apparatus having
a moving carriage carrying a printing mechanism,
a carriage control element, and
means responsive to the carriage control element for moving the carriage along a printing path, said printing path being divisible into a plurality of sequential distance-velocity increments,
wherein as the carriage moves along the printing path a plurality of symbols are written,
a carriage velocity control method comprising the steps of
determining, for each increment, and in response to the symbols at least in part written in said increment, a maximum carriage velocity, said maximum carriage velocity being dependent on the complexity of said symbol, and
determining, for each increment along said printing path, an optimum velocity change for said carriage from said increment to a next increment, whereby said carriage can traverse said printing path at a velocity which varies as a function of the complexities of the particular characters being written by said stylus thereby to provide a adequate time over which each character can be written from said moving carriage.
8. The method of claim 7 further comprising the steps of
storing symbols for an entire printing line,
determining said maximum carriage speed for the entire printing line,
determining the optimum velocity changes for the entire line, and
thereafter writing said entire line of symbols.
9. The method of claim 7 further comprising the steps of
storing incoming symbols to be written,
determining maximum carriage speeds for increments corresponding to at least a part of said stored symbols,
determining the optimum velocity changes for at least a portion of the increments for which maximum carriage velocities have been determined, and
writing those symbols corresponding to increments for which velocity changes have been determined,
said storing, first and second determining, and writing steps being performed on a demand basis.
10. The method of claim 8 wherein said second determining step for each increment comprises the steps of
employing a look-ahead table having entries relating the difference between the actual carriage velocity in one increment and the maximum velocity in a later occurring increment to the distance between increments, for determining the carriage change value corresponding to the later occurring increment, and
repeatedly determining for each of a predetermined number of next occurring increments a velocity change value, and
determining said velocity change command for said one increment from said velocity change values.
11. The method of claim 9 wherein said second determining step for each increment comprises the steps of
employing a look-ahead table having entries relating the difference between the actual carriage velocity in one increment and the maximum velocity in a later occurring increment to the distance between increments, for determining the carriage change value corresponding to the later occurring increment, and
repeatedly determining for each of a predetermined number of next occurring increments a velocity change value, and
determining said velocity change command for said one increment from said velocity change values.
12. The method of claims 10 or 11 comprising the steps of
decreasing carriage velocity whenever a velocity change value indicates a reduction in carriage velocity, and
terminating said repeatedly determining step whenever a velocity change decrease is determined.
13. The method of claims 10 or 11 further comprising the steps of
mounting a stylus writing element to said printing mechanism, and
compensating a drive to said stylus element for taking account of a continuously changing, carriage position.
14. The method of claim 7 further wherein said first determining step comprises the step of
selecting for each distance-velocity increment which is associated with the writing of two adjacent symbols, the smaller of the maximum velocities associated with said adjacent symbols.
15. The method of claim 7 further wherein said first determining step comprises the step of
reducing the maximum velocity associated with a distance-velocity increment for reducing carriage travel whenever carriage overtravel from one to another of two adjacent symbols would otherwise occur.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to printing apparatus and methods and more particularly to a printing apparatus and method for controlling the printing carriage velocity in an on-the-fly calligraphic printing system.

Mechanical printers have long been available and have increased their printing throughput in order to match the exploding output requirements of today's electronic apparatus. With the advent of both microprocessor controlled devices and the "small computer", the need for fast, reliable, and yet relatively inexpensive printers has resulted in the development and refinement of a number of printing techniques. Among those techniques is the calligraphic printing approach.

In a typical calligraphic printing system, a pen or stylus, together with its drive mechanism, is supported on a moving carriage. The carriage is moved from one writing position to a next writing position. At each writing position the pen or stylus traverses the path of the desired symbol to be written. During the writing time, the carriage is generally at rest.

In order to reduce the time required for printing, apparatus described in copending applications U.S. Ser. Nos. 242,660 and 242,663 employ an "on-the-fly" printing technique wherein the carriage is always moving and the drive mechanism for moving the pen or stylus, carried by the carriage, is dynamically compensated according to the changing position of the carriage. The carriage is generally in motion and carriage acceleration/deceleration time requirements, present when the carriage is stopped at each symbol, are no longer present.

In the particular printer apparatus described in copending U.S. application Ser. Nos. 242,660 and 242,663, the printing carriage which supports the stylus moves along a printing path at a selected velocity while writing is effected on-the-fly. The writing stylus is selectively actuated and positionally controlled to mark a recording medium with intelligible indicia. However, the writing of the various symbols will not, in general, require the same time duration for their completion. This is true even though the spatial extent of or allowed for each character, in the direction of movement of the printing carriage, may be a constant value. Thus, when the carriage velocity is fixed at a constant value, the value is substantially determined by the indicia or symbol which requires the most time to print.

It is therefore an object of this invention to provide, in a calligraphic printing apparatus wherein individual symbols generally require different times for printing, a method and apparatus for increasing average velocity along the printing path without loss in printing quality.

Other objects of the invention are a printing apparatus and method which provide a minimum carriage traverse time for each printing line, the time being generally different from line to line, which are reliable, simple in construction and operation, and which provide increased throughput of operation.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to a calligraphic printing apparatus having a moving carriage carrying a printing mechanism, an assembly for moving the carriage along a printing path for reproducing a plurality of symbols, and a carriage control element. The carriage is moved along the printing path in response to the carriage control element for reproducing the plurality of symbols. The printing path is divisible into a plurality of distance-velocity increments. (The distance-velocity increment is the spatial extent required to change the carriage velocity by a known incremental amount.) The invention features the improvement wherein the carriage control element has an element for determining, for each distance-velocity increment along said printing path, a maximum carriage velocity, and a second element responsive to the maximum carriage velocities for determining, for each distance-velocity increment along the printing path, an optimum change in carriage velocity. Thereby, the carriage can traverse the printing path at a variable carriage velocity while the symbols are being written.

In another aspect of the invention, the carriage control element features a first memory for storing printing path time/velocity data for each printing symbol, a second memory for storing at least a selected minimum number of next symbols to be printed in the path, an element responsive to the first and second memory contents for associating with each increment a corresponding maximum carriage velocity, and a velocity control device for controlling changes in the velocity of the carriage at each increment along the printing path depending upon the maximum carriage velocity associated with each of a minimum number of next increments.

The invention, in another aspect, relates to the method for controlling carriage velocity. The method employs the steps of determining, for each increment, and in response to the symbols at least in part written in said increment, a maximum carriage velocity, and determining, for each increment along the printing path, an optimum velocity change for the carriage from the said increment to a next increment, whereby the carriage velocity is always no greater than the maximum allowed velocity in each increment along the printing path.

According to the invention, the symbols can be processed either as they are being entered into the apparatus and while the carriage is moving, that is, while the carriage is "on-the-fly", (a "demand" condition), or a whole printing line of symbols can be stored and processed as a group so that while one line is being entered into and processed in the apparatus, the previous line is being printed according to data already generated. In either case, it is advantageous to employ a look-ahead table which provides changes in carriage velocity depending upon the present carriage velocity, a maximum future carriage velocity, and the distance between the increments corresponding to the present and future velocities.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Other objects, features, and advantages of the invention will appear from the following description of a preferred embodiment taken together with the drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is an overall schematic diagram of a calligraphic writing mechanism with which the present invention can be employed;

FIG. 2 is an overall block diagram of a generalized microcomputer system appropriate for providing data to the circuitry of FIG. 3 and for generally supervising operation of the apparatus;

FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram of control circuitry employed in operating the mechanism of FIG. 1 in accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a diagram of the look-ahead velocity-change chart used in connection with the invention;

FIG. 5 is a flow chart representing a method for generating the carriage velocity changes according to the invention;

FIG. 6 is a flow chart representing a preferred method for generating the carriage velocity changes according to the invention.

FIG.7 is a flow chart representing an alternate method for generating the carriage velocity changes according to the invention; and

FIG. 8 is a pictorial diagram to aid in understanding the method for generating maximum carriage velocity along the printing path.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring to FIG. 1, a carriage mechanism 11 is slideably mounted on a pair of rails 13 and 15 so as to be moveable in a controlled, spaced apart relationship, along a platen 17. Platen 17 is preferably, for example, a typewriter roller, however other moveable or fixed platen structures can be employed.

Carriage 11 carries a pair of linear transducers or servomotors 21 and 23 which are adapted for moving or positioning a pen or stylus 25. The servomotors 21, 23 are preferably oriented for moving the stylus 25 along essentially transverse axes. Thus, servomotor 21 moves the stylus along an axis parallel to the carriage motion (the X-axis) while servomotor 23 moves the stylus along the transverse or vertical axis (the Y-axis). Each linear transducer 21 and 23 is responsive to a control signal, generated as described in more detail below, for moving the stylus along the respective axis and further includes also a feedback component for generating a feedback or position signal. In this manner, the stylus servomechanisms can operate in a closed loop feedback configuration. In the illustrated embodiment, optical feedback transducers are employed. Carriage 11 typically includes a third drive mechanism (not shown) for applying a load to the stylus to effect writing.

As the carriage is moved along the platen 17, X-Y stylus movement in each character position or domain is effected by energizing the linear servomechanisms 21 and 23 to move the stylus 25 in accordance with a set of vectors defining the character. Associated with each vector is a command to load or unload the stylus. The definition of these vectors is preferably stored in digital form in a suitable digital memory, e.g. a read only memory, which may be readily interchanged to effect changing from one font to another. The stylus 25 may be in the form of a pen to effect direct writing or, preferably, will press through a carbon film ribbon to effect writing on paper supported by platen 17.

Carriage 11 is moved along the length of platen 17, the printing path, by a d.c. servometer 27 which drives a belt 29 passing over rollers 31 and 33. Movement of the paper in the transverse direction, i.e. vertical, is effected by a stepping motor 35 which rotates roller platen 17.

The servomotor 27 is provided with a shaft encoder 37 to provide a feedback mechanism for sensing movement of the carriage and for keeping track of its position. Illustrated encoder 37 provides square wave signals in phase quadrature, as indicated at 38 and 40, so that both motor speed and direction of rotation can be determined. These positional information signals are provided to the overall control processor of FIG. 2 as control signals as well as to the servo control circuitry of FIG. 3.

As indicated previously, the data representing the vectors which make up each symbol are preferably stored in digital form in a read only memory and are utilized by a microprocessor controller to generate the actual data which controls the stylusdriving servomechanisms and the carriage drive. Referring to FIG. 2, the illustrated microprocessor system is bus-oriented, that is, memory devices, input/output (I/O) ports, and a processor 43 are all connected to a common data and control bus 41. In the illustrated embodiment of the invention, processor 43 is an Intel 8085A-2 microprocessor and the memory and I/O components are implemented using integrated circuits from the same family of devices or compatable TTL devices. As is understood, the advantage of using a microprocessor-driven controller is that the mode of operation may be flexibly changed under software control, without extensive hardware redesign. In implementing its control function, the processor utilizes a random access memory (RAM) 45 for storing operating parameters. Fixed data, e.g. data defining the vectors which make up each character in a font, are stored in illustrated read only memories 46, 47, 48, 49.

The microprocessor system provides digital data for defining the operation of the control circuitry 50 of FIG. 3 through latched output ports 51 and 52. Port 51 provides data for the pen servo mechanisms while the port 52 provides carriage velocity control information. As is common to microprocessor control systems, various control signals are needed by the processor 43 to determine the physical state of the mechanism apparatus and various control signals are provided from the processor to the mechanism controllers. A bi-directional port 53 fills this function. A fourth I/O port 54 is provided for vertical control, that is, for controlling the stepping motor 35. However, the vertical control system forms no part of the present invention and is not disclosed in detail herein.

Preferably, the vector defining data for each symbol is stored in terms of a sequence of vectors, i.e., directions and lengths, (including stylus control information), standard symbol width, and a maximum carriage velocity at which a standard size symbol can be written. (The maximum carriage velocity need not be stored but can be derived from the information defining the vector sequence. It is included to reduce processor overhead.) Among the functions performed by the microprocessor system of FIG. 2 is to expand the "raw" data and generate for the conditions of size specified by the operating input system, respective X- and Y-axis components for each symbols and the optimum velocity profile along the printing line.

Considering first the X- and Y-axis components, in the illustrated embodiment the component values are each specified to four bits of accuracy and are applied, respectively, to digital to analog converters (DACs) 61 and 63 over lines 65 and 67 of FIG. 3. The values provided to the control circuitry represent velocity components. To obtain spatial displacement values, the voltages obtained from the DACs 61 and 63 are integrated using the circuits indicated at 71 and 73, respectively. Each of these circuits has an inverting amplifier 71a and 73a and an integrating capacitor, 71b and 73b, respectively. The capacitors 71b and 73b can be discharged, to reset the integrators, by respective analog switches 71c and 73c. This reset condition defines the initial condition for the integrators. A dual analog switch 75 performs this function, together with its control circuitry. The resetting switch circuitry 75 is operated by a control signal, designated RESET, over a line 76, which is one of the signals obtained from the control port 53 of the microprocessor controller of FIG. 2.

The output signals from the integrators 71 and 73 are applied, through respective summing resistors 71d and 73d, to error amplifiers 77 and 78. The error amplifiers 77 and 78 are responsive to the difference between the integrator output signals and the respective feedback position signals obtained from signals from the X and Y linear servomechanisms 21 and 23. The error amplifiers, in turn, drive, in conventional fashion, X- and Y-axis power amplifiers 79 and 80.

In this preferred embodiment of the invention, each vector is "drawn" in one of four distinct time durations. Each time duration corresponds to a different length vector. (Symbols requiring more vectors and/or longer vectors thus generally take a longer time.) Thus, by varying the data over lines 65 and/or 67, different length lines can be obtained in the same time. Consequently, the data changes periodically at a fixed repetition rate and integrators 71 and 73 provide what is substantially a linear stepwise ramp response to the converter inputs. It is generally at the end of the vector string representing a symbol that the integrators are reset for the next symbol cycle.

Thus far, in the description of the control circuitry of FIG. 3, it has been assumed that the carriage is stationary while the symbol is being drawn. This is not the case however, according to the preferred embodiment of the invention, wherein not only does the carriage move but it may move at varying speeds. The adjusting or compensating signal is provided over a line 81 to the X position amplifier 78. The signal is thus added to the X signal or horizontal direction signal which is obtained from the microprocessor data input over line 67.

As noted above, the position of the carriage can be determined by the quadrature output signals 38 and 40 from the shaft encoder 37 attached to servo mechanism 27. The quadrature output signals 38 and 40 obtained from the shaft encoder 37 are each applied to one input of a respective comparator 82 and 83. A suitable intermediate reference voltage is applied to the other input of each comparator. The output from comparator 82 is applied directly as one input to an exlcusive OR gate 85 and, in delayed form, to the other input of gate 85. The delay is effected by a resistor 86a and capacitor 86b, with "squaring" of the output signal being performed by a buffer gate 87. The function of this delay and gating circuitry is to provide, at the output of gate 85, a brief pulse for each transition, positive or negative, in the input signal 38. An identical circuit configuration (resistor 88a, capacitor 88b, and gates 88, 89) provides, in response to the input signal 40, a corresponding pulse train at the output of exclusive OR gate 89. The pulse trains obtained from gates 85 and 89 are combined in an exclusive OR gate 91. The output of this gate provides a pulse for each transition in either of the input signals (38 or 40). In addition, there has been achieved a factor of four multiplication in the pulse rate (compared with the pulse rate of either one of the shaft encoder signals). If the carriage were driven by a stepper motor instead of the d.c. servomotor 27, the pulse signal used to advance that motor might be used in place of the pulse train generated by the shaft encoder 37.

The pulse train obtained from the gate 91 is applied to a counter 101 so that the counter generates a digital value which varies in proportion to displacement of the carriage. This counter 101 is reset by the signal on line 76 when the integrators 71 and 73 are reset at the start of each symbol. Thus, the digital value held by the counter in one sense represents spatial displacement of the carriage across the character domain. The digital value in counter 101 is converted to an analog signal voltage by a digital to analog converter 103, the transfer being buffered by a latch 105 which is loaded in synchronism with the counting to minimize ripple-through effects. The output voltage from the converter 103 for each symbol is a monotonically increasing function for each symbol or character domain, that is, it increases in value as the carriage moves across the character domain. This voltage, however, is not a time dependent function in the usual sense, but rather is proportional to actual displacement of the carriage and thus, in the time domain, will vary as the speed of the carriage varies.

The voltage obtained from converter 103 is mixed in or summed with the X-axis position signal obtained from the integrator 73, the converter signal being applied through a resitor 104 to a summing junction 107 at the high impedance input of error amplifier 78. The addition of this carriage displacement component to the vector-defining voltage allows the writing of characters from a moving carriage without requiring alteration of the basic vector definitional encoding scheme. Also, the velocity of the carriage is allowed to change indpendent of the stylus movement. Because of this compensation, the carriage can be driven relatively rapidly when simple characters are being written and more slowly for more complex characters. In this way, the throughput of the machine can be substantially increased as compared with the situation which would exist if the speed of the carriage had to be kept constant, as would be the case if, for example, compensation were built into the vector encoding scheme. In such a case the single speed chosen would have to be relatively low, i.e. selected to permit sufficient time to write the most complex (and hence most time consuming) symbol.

The specification of carriage speed along a printing line is performed by the microprocessor system of FIG. 2. The illustrated microprocessor system provides a stream of data words representing the desired sequence of carriage speeds along the printing path. This carriage velocity data stream is output through the port 52. This data, available in the illustrated embodiment with five bits of accuracy, is applied to a digital-to-analog converter 111 over lines 112. The output signal from converter 111, which is an analog voltage representing desired speed, is compared with a voltage representing actual speed. This latter voltage is obtained by a frequency-to-voltage converter 113 driven by the pulse train from gate 91. As described previously, the pulse train is generated at a rate which is proportional to the velocity of the carriage, being derived from the shaft encoder associated with the carriage drive motor 27. The output voltages from the frequency-to-voltage converter 113 and the D/A converter 111 are applied, through respective mixing resistors 114 and 115, to a summing junction 116 to derive an error signal. The error signal is applied to an amplifier 117. The amplified error signal over line 118 drives a power amplifier 123, which in turn drives the servomotor 27.

As noted above, in the preferred embodiment, there is associated with each symbol vector definition a velocity or time designation which is representative of the time required to write the symbol in a standard size format. This corresponds to the maximum carriage velocity associated with the standard size symbol. The symbol vector definition also contains data representing the extent of the symbol in the standard size format. The microprocessor system of FIG. 2 uses both the time/velocity designator and the standard size data to control the velocity of the carriage as it moves across the platen along the printing path. Thus, the carriage speed need not be determined solely by the time it takes to write the most complex symbol, but can and is varied according to the particular symbols being written.

In any implementation of the writing system described herein, the physical parameters of the system dictate the maximum possible carriage velocity change rates. Thus, in the particular system disclosed herein, the velocity of the carriage can vary between zero and six inches per second and can be changed by, for example, one-half inch per second in a "distance-velocity" increment of carriage travel. The spatial extent of the "distance-velocity" increment will vary from embodiment to embodiment and depends upon the mechanical drive system. It is convenient in the illustrated embodiment to designate the carriage velocity commands in one-half inch per second velocity increments (this is the five-bit data over lines 112). There are therefore thirty-two possible forward velocities at which the carriage can be designated to move, of which twelve are employed in the illustrated embodiment.

(This is effectively a filtering or smoothing process whereby the acceleration of the mechanical drive system is controlled electrically. The method can also be employed to limit acceleration beyond the limitations imposed by the physical system. This is desireable, for example, when mechanical noise and vibration must be limited, or where, for practical reasons, rolling off of servomechanism response is not feasible.)

Clearly, in order to increase throughput of the apparatus, it is desirable to move the carriage at as high an average velocity as possible. This is accomplished by the microprocessor system of FIG. 2 by "looking ahead" to determine whether any maximum velocities in future distance velocity increments will be adversely affected by the present velocity. The goal is to achieve and maintain as high a carriage velocity as possible, in view of the system mechanical dynamics and the restrictions on future velocities.

The illustrated system is limited so that the velocity can change in only one-half inch per second increments in each distance-velocity increment. This limitation, given the mechanical limits of the system, is set by the minimum time to traverse a "distance-velocity" increment. The microprocessor system then looks ahead to determine the velocity change factors as symbols are applied to the operating system of FIG. 2. The microprocessor system of FIG. 2 can either determine the velocities to be used for a line segment on demand (as the line is being printed) or can compute the velocity profile of a whole print line, prior to printing the line. In the preferred embodiment of the invention, it is the former approach which is employed. Further, the system employs the positional feedback provided by shaft encoder 37 and the decode circuitry of FIG. 3 (in particular the output of exclusive OR gate 91), as described in detail below.

Before proceeding with the details of the implementation of the variable speed carriage movement, it is convenient to introduce some definitional conveniences in order to describe both the limitations upon carriage velocity and upon the symbols being written. The spatial duration of each symbol is the symbol domain. For each of the symbols in a printing line, the symbol domain need not be constant, i.e. the symbols can have different spatial extends along the printing path, although in many instances the symbol domain is the same for each symbol. In the definition of the vector defining the standard symbols size, there is, as noted above, a definition of the spatial extent of the symbol domain. This spatial extent is given in terms of unit steps, one unit step in the printing path direction corresponding to a single pulse at the output of either gate 82 or 83. (In the illustrated embodiment, this corresponds to 1/240 inches.)

The spatial extent required to change the carriage velocity by an incremental known amount, one-half inch per second in the illustrated embodiment, is defined as the distance-velocity increment. (This term was introduced above.) In the illustrated embodiment, the distance-velocity increment corresponds to eight pulses from the output of either gate 82 or 83, of 1/30 inches.

According to the illustrated embodiment, a "look ahead" approach is implemented to determine whether the present carriage velocity can be increased, can stay the same, or must be decreased to meet a future maximum velocity requirement. Therefore, the example, when the carriage is moving at its greatest velocity, six inches per second in the illustrated embodiment, the apparatus must look ahead at the next twelve distance-velocity increments to determine whether the velocity can remain constant at its maximum or must be decreased. Thus, for example if at the symbol corresponding to the twelfth next distance velocity increment the carriage velocity must be reduced to zero. the velocity decrease must start immediately and the carriage velocity is decremented by one-half inch per second.

In order to enable a rapid determination of the optimum carriage velocity profile along the printing line, that is, the carriage velocity at each distance velocity increment along the printing line, a look-up table 124 (FIG. 4) is employed. The look-up table provides a data information value which indicates whether the velocity can or must change or can remain constant. The data information value depends upon the maximum velocity allowable during the carriage transit of some future distance-velocity increment. The chart of FIG. 4 is preferably incorporated into the microprocessor system through either the random access memory 45 or through a ROM attached to bus 41. In the illustrated embodiment, the chart is implemented in one of ROM's 46-49. Alternately, however, a separate hardwired apparatus can be employed wherein the microprocessor 43 applies a data signal to the hardwired apparatus and the apparatus provides the necessary velocity change information to the microprocessor system.

The chart of FIG. 4 is constructed as follows. For each possible carriage velocity and for each distance-velocity increment up to twelve increments ahead, a value is entered indicating whether the carriage velocity can be increased (+1), can stay the same (0), or must decrease (-1). Thus, in the example above, if the carriage velocity is at its maximum, six inches per second, and the velocity twelve distance-velocity increments ahead must be zero, then the carriage velocity must decreased in the next distance-velocity increment. This is represented in the chart by a "-1" entry at 125a. On the other hand, for example, if the carriage velocity is three inches per second and the carriage velocity in the next increment must also be no greater than three inches per second, then as to the next distance-velocity increment, the carriage velocity cannot increase and must at least stay the same. This is indicated at 125b. It should be noted at this point that even through the velocity requirement represented at 125b requires no velocity change, the maximum carriage velocity at later distance-velocity increments may require that the carriage velocity be decreased.

Note that the chart of FIG. 4 represents only one-half of the possible velocity differences. It should be clear, and need not be recorded in detail in chart form, that if the velocity at a later distance-velocity increment is greater than the velocity of the carriage during the present distance-velocity increment, that the entry must be "+1". Thus, all of the entries which would occur "above" the zero difference velocity line 125c equal +1.

As noted above, the velocity determinations can be performed either on demand (usually while the carriage is moving), or on a line by line basis prior to carriage movement for that line. In the preferred illustrated embodiment, the velocities are determined on demand (FIGS. 5 and 6). Thus, according to this embodiment, as the processor stores symbols to be printed in its memory 45, it generates for each successive distance-velocity increment a maximum velocity which can be employed as the carriage traverses the increment. This determination takes into account the horizontal spatial extent of each of the symbols involved, as described in more detail below in connection with FIG. 8. Thus each increment is "tagged" with a maximum velocity which depends upon the maximum velocity allowed for the symbol being written. As the maximum velocity profile is determined for each distance-velocity increment, an optimum velocity profile for the carriage is, if possible, also obtained employing the chart of FIG. 4 and the boundary conditions that the carriage is presently at a velocity VR (the present velocity) which can vary from increment to increment, and ends the velocity profile at a velocity of six inches per second (the velocity allowed when no symbol is printed). The optimal velocity for each successive increment is determined as soon as the maximum velocities for the next twelve increments and the present velocity for the last increment are known. (The "raw" maximum velocity information for this determination is stored, as noted above, in the ROM's 46, 47, 48, and 49 (which totally define the standard size symbol).)

Accordingly, therefore, starting at a "present" distance-velocity increment of the profile, in which the carriage has, for example, a maximum velocity of three inches per second, and a present velocity (VR) of two inches per second, the microprocessor system of FIG. 2 looks ahead at the next twelve distance-velocity increments and, determines whether, for each of those twelve next increments, the velocity can be increased, can remain the same, or must be decreased. The chart look-up procedure employed for each of the twelve next increments, preferably starts at the twelfth or furthest increment, since it is most likely that the more distant increments, rather than a near increment, will tend to restrict the carriage velocity. If for any increment, the look-up table indicates that the velocity must be decreased, the look ahead search is terminated, the present velocity is decremented by one velocity unit, that is, one-half inch per second in the illustrated embodiment, and the entire procedure is updated starting with the next sequential distance-velocity increment. The "demand" method of operation is outlined generally in FIG. 5 and more particularly in FIG. 6 which represents a flow chart for a software subroutine for controlling this portion of processor 43 operation.

Once the "optimal" velocity has been determined for a distance-velocity increment, the microprocessor system of FIG. 2 updates the hardware and moves on to the next distance-velocity increment, where the next "optimal" velocity is determined. This process occurs as the line is being printed, and the carriage velocity data output is provided through output port 52 over line 112 to converter 111.

According to that embodiment of the invention wherein velocity determinations are made on a line-by-line basis prior to the beginning of carriage movement for a line, once the processor has stored in its memory 45 a set of symbols to be printed (corresponding to a full line), it generates in the random access memory 45, a corresponding list of maximum velocities which can be employed in each of the distance-velocity increments across the line. As in the demand mode embodiment, this determination takes into account the horizontal spatial extent of each of the symbols involved. Thus each increment is "tagged" with a maximum velocity which depends upon the maximum velocity allowed for the symbol being written. Once the maximum velocity profile is determined for a printing line, an optimum velocity profile for the carriage is obtained employing at each distance-velocity increment, the chart of FIG. 4 and the boundary conditions that the carriage starts from a stationary condition and ends the line at the maximum velocity possible. This method of operation according to this embodiment is outlined in FIG. 7 which represents a flow chart for this portion of processor 43 operation according to this embodiment of the invention.

Once the entire "optimal" velocity profile has been determined for a printing line according to the line-by-line method, the microprocessor system of FIG. 2 is ready to print the line. While the line is being printed, the carriage velocity data output is provided through output port 52 over line 112 to converter 111. Simultaneously, the next line of symbols are being or have been input to the microprocessor memory and the optimum velocity profile for the next full line is determined.

As noted above, prior to determining the "optimal" velocity profile for either an entire printing line or segment of a line (i.e. the demand mode), the maximum velocity for each distance-velocity increment is determined. In most instances, the maximum velocity will be a sole function of the symbol being printed when the carriage is to traverse the particular distance-velocity increment. There are instance however, when the maximum velocity must be modified to take into account different spatial durations associated with adjacent symbols.

Referring to FIG. 8, two adjacent symbols, symbol m and symbol m+1, are printed in respective domains 113 and 114. Domain 113 has a center 113a positioned at the middle of the nth distance-velocity increment and domain 114 has a center 114a positioned at the beginning of increment n+6. The spatial duration of the respective domains 113 and 114 are different. Domain 113 extends for six distance-velocity increments in the illustrated embodiment and domain 114 extends for five distance-velocity increments in the illustrated embodiment. Further, it is assumed that other things being equal, the maximum velocity of the carriage during printing of symbol m, Vm, is different than the maximum velocity of the carriage when printing symbol m+1, that is Vm+1.

According to the preferred embodiment of the invention, the carriage is positioned at the center of a symbol domain when writing of the symbol begins. Thus, at the instant when symbol m "printing" begins, the carriage is at the middle of distance-velocity increment n, that is, at the center 113a of symbol m. Since the maximum velocity of the carriage is set to traverse a distance about equal to the full width of symbol m, as the symbol is being written, and since the carriage begins its motion at the center 113a of symbol m, the carriage will move past and be downstream of the center of symbol m+1 at the time when the writing of symbol m is complete. This is an unacceptable operating condition since it is assumed that the carriage is located at the center of a symbol when the symbol writing begins. (Here the carriage has already traveled past the center of the next symbol, symbol m+1.) As a result, the maximum carriage velocity for the distance-velocity increment associated with symbol m must be reduced below that which would be otherwise acceptable. This modification of system velocity is accomplished according to an averaging formula. The formula employed (and its derivation) in the illustrated embodiment is (referring to FIG. 8):

T1 =2S0 /Vmax                               Equation 1

T1 =(S0 +S1)/V                              Equation 2

Therefore, equating the right side of equations 1 and 2:

V=(Vmax /2)(1+S1 /S0)                       Equation 3

where V≦Vmax and where S0 is one-half the width of the first domain, domain 113; S1 is one-half the width of the second domain, domain 114; Vmax is the maximum velocity associated with first symbol m; V is the maximum available velocity when symbol domains 113 and 114 are adjacent one another; and T1 is the time it takes to write symbol m, which thereby defines Vmax, given the width of symbol domain 113.

By reducing the maximum velocity, if necessary, to "V", the extent of travel of the carriage will be limited so that a next adjacent symbol, symbol m+1 in the illustrated embodiment, will begin at its domain center. It should further be noted that a single distance-velocity increment can be associated with one of two different symbols (such as distance-velocity increment n) when two symbol domains overlap the same distance-velocity increment, the maximum velocity associated with that increment is no greater than the smaller maximum velocity of the two symbols.

Referring now to FIG. 3, in this illustrated embodiment, a distance-velocity increment is equal to and corresponds to eight pulses from the gate 82 or gate 83. (Typically a standard symbol will be three distance-velocity increments in width.) To enable the microprocessor system of FIG. 2 to operate more efficiently, a modulo 8 counter 125d (FIG. 3) provides an output pulse over a line 125e to the processor 43 through port 53. At each pulse over line 125e, the processor updates the carriage velocity control signals over lines 112.

The illustrated embodiment includes provision for easily forming symbols of different sizes from the same font defining vector data, that is, from a single set of digital data applied to the digital-to-analog converters 61 and 63 over lines 65 and 67 respectively. For this purpose, the converters 61, 63 are of the so-called multiplying type in which the output voltage is proportional, not only to the digital value applied, but also to an applied analog reference voltage. A four bit data word, obtained from the microprocessor controller of FIG. 2, is applied over lines 126 to a decoder 127. Decoder 127 generates two separate one-of-four selection signals, each selection signal being defined by two of the bits over lines 126. Each selection signal is applied to a respective quad switch 128 and 129 to select one of four predetermined voltages for application, as a reference voltage, to the respective digital to analog converter 61 or 63. The predetermined voltages are obtained from a voltage divider comprising resistors 131, 133, 135 and 137. The resistors 131, 133, 135 and 137 are selected to produce voltages corresponding to the desired type sizes rather than to perform a normal digital-to-analog coversion. The nature of the decoding is such that only one switch in each of the packages is on at any one time so that the reference voltage applied to each digital-to-analog converter 61 or 63 can be independently selected. Accordingly, since the horizontal and vertical scaling factors can be selected separately, characters of different aspect ratios can be formed from the same "raw" vector data as well as merely scaling the characters. In the preferred embodiment, the two digital-to-analog converters are not identical in their scaling ratios.

In the illustrated embodiment, the axis of one of the linear servomechanisms driving the stylus is parallel to the direction of carriage movement and the other axis is essentially perpendicular thereto. Accordingly, the carriage displacement based compensation signal over line 81 only needs to be mixed with one of the two control signals driving the stylus servomechanisms to obtain the desired moving frame of reference. On the other hand, those skilled in the art will appreciate that an arrangement could be utilized in which the axes of the linear servomechanisms are at an angle, e.g., 45° to the direction of carriage movement. In such a case, displacement compensation components of appropriate magnitude would be summed with each of the servocontrol signals, observing appropriate polarity. In fact, the axes of the stylus servomechanisms need not be perpendicular to each other. The specification of the resulting compensation is more complex in that circumstance; however, such an arrangement should be understood to be within the scope of the present invention. Similarly, it should also be understood that it is relative motion between the platen and the stylus mount which is significant and that either component might actually be moved even though movement of the stylus mount (carriage) is disclosed in the preferred embodiment.

In the illustrated embodiment, during operation in the "demand" mode, it has been tacitly assumed (in FIG. 5) that a continuous stream of data was available so that the velocity profile can be constantly updated and determined. When the input source is a typewriter, this is not the case. Furthermore, it is important when the apparatus is employed in connection with a typewriter type input, that the carriage position be constantly updated to provide a substantially immediate feedback to the operator in the same manner as a typical electric typewriter, such as the IBM Selectric typewriter, provides. Consequently, in the demand mode, when the typewriter input is employed, the boundary conditions are changed to allow for the continuous velocity and to provide for a constant update of carriage position as illustrated in FIG. 6.

The presently preferred embodiment of the invention, implemented in accordance with the processing system of FIG. 2, employs computer programs to realize various aspects of the apparatus. The detailed programs which provide the functions described in relation to the flow chart of FIG. 6 are set forth in the attached Appendix A. The program printout is in the basic assembly language used in connection with the Intel 8085A-2 microprocessor. Appendix A is the operating subroutine program employed in connection with determining the maximum velocity profile and the optimal velocity provided in accordance with the preferred embodiment of the invention. Those skilled in the programming art will be able to follow the programming and generate alternate operating programs and apparatus in accordance with the invention. The program is heavily annotated to enable one skilled in the programming art to follow the processing of the incoming data information.

Additions, subtractions, deletions and other modifications of the preferred embodiment are within the skill of one practiced in the art and are within the scope of the following claims.

APPENDIX A VARIABLE DEFINITIONS

VELREF: (byte), a byte indicating the present carriage velocity. It assumes the values of OOH through OCH for velocities of 0.0"/sec respectively, in velocity increments of 0.5"/sec.

TYPCAL: (byte), a byte indicating what the velocity of the carriage was at the time the velocity profile was calculated. In reality, it is used by the following routine (called "BACKUP") as an indicator of whether the carriage was "ON" during the velocity calculation or not. The reason . . . if the carriage has gone from "on" to "off" between the time the profile was calculated and the printing time of the characters, then the profile must be re-calculated.

ABSHGHPORT: (byte), a port that reports the high nibble of the 12-bit carriage position: ##STR1## B0=The row encoder pulses, squared, of B0 X=don't cares

**Pr=carriage position bits

ABSLOWPORT: (byte), a port that reports the low byte of the 12-bit carriage position: ##STR2## LSTPOS: (word), a note of the carriage position, so that "VELCAL" can calculate a new profile from that position, onward.

VELPTR: (word), a pointer into the velocity buffer, pointing to the next speed value to output to the carriage controlling port . . . updated by the velocity interrupt routine ("INTVEL") every 8 encoder pulses.

LSTPTR: (word), a pointer into the velocity buffer, pointing to the last valid entry made by "VELCAL".

IBFPTR: (word), pointer into the data input buffer. Points to printable character data (and spaces).

TCHRPTR: (word), a pointer set up by "DOMCAL" to point to the character segment data for the next character to print.

TCHRCNT: (byte), the number of segment bytes (plus 1) of the next character's data. (Value=02H to FFH)

BCKFLG: (byte), used as a flag to force "DOMCAL" or "SPACE" routines to make their respective calculations and then to either return immediately with the results or to use the results to alter system variables:

=FFH, return to the calling routine with results for caller disposition of them.

=OOH, return to the caller after the results are used to modify system variables.

These routines basically return to "VELCAL" with the domain value of the character they processed.

DATTBL: (words), a table whereby "VELCAL" can temporarily store the speed and domain size of the necessary number of characters to do a profile. This table is "massaged" as the speed bytes and domain values are modified per pitch, bolding, underlining, etc., changes.

INBUF: (bytes), the data input buffer.

LCAPOS: *(word), the last absolute carriage position where a character (or space) was started.

LHDVAL: *(word), the value of 1/2 of the domain of the last character (or space) that was started.

TAKE2S: (routine), calculates the 2's complement of the contents of the HL-register pair and returns it in HL register pair.

TRNFLG: (byte), a flag telling "DOMCAL" what to do with ASCII values encountered that do not represent printable characters.

=FFH, all ascii codes encountered are printable. If OOH→IFH or 80H→9FH encountered, then use segment data from the special transparent character set . . . other codes are as usual.

=OOH, ignore as character data codes of OOH→IFH or 80H→9FH.

TSTATUS: (word), a system status word. Holds flags indicating what special parameters are set on or off . . . i.e. . . . bold facing, italicizing, underlining, super/subscripting, etc.

XSPDTBL: (bytes), a table to allow software to scale up/down a character's speed byte value, changes in pitch vary from 10 CPI to some other value.

XYREAL: (byte), a flag logging the pitch and point value the next character will be printed at.

DIVIDE: (routine), performs of 16÷16 bit binary divide (remainder is trounced!) of the HL÷BC.

VELTBL: (bytes), a table that enables the software to lock up the velocity value between speed bytes to effect a "smoothed" profile.

SLWFLG: (byte), a flag, set on (FFH) if the carriage is presently undergoing a reverse slew (carriage return). This is useful because velocity interrupts are unwanted at this time since it is constant.

INTVEL: (routine), this routine (started by an RST6.5 interrupt is forced alive every 8 encoder pulses (30.0 mils). Its function is to output the next speed byte to the carriage control hardware, as pointed to by "VELPTR" into "VELBUF". ##SPC1## ##SPC2##

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4591284 *Aug 1, 1985May 27, 1986Mechatron Systems, Inc.Daisywheel printer with improved mounting for mechanical elements
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Classifications
U.S. Classification400/18, 400/70, 400/322, 400/279, 318/561
International ClassificationB41J2/49
Cooperative ClassificationB41J2/49
European ClassificationB41J2/49
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